Perfect Candidate for Each NHL Head Coach Opening

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Florida Panthers interim head coach Andrew Brunette, center, talks with left wing Anthony Duclair, left, center Carter Verhaeghe (23) and referee Graham Skilliter (24) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. The Panthers won 9-3.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Rachael Millanta @rachaelmillanta Apr 19, 2023, 6:04 PM
  • The Ducks, Capitals, and Blue Jackets are in the market for new head coaches before 2023-24.

The 2022-23 NHL regular season is now finished, and for those teams who failed to advance to the playoffs, inevitable head coach changes are already underway.

As of April 19, three teams — the Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals, and Columbus Blue Jackets — are in the market for new head coaches, having parted ways with their previous bench bosses following the season’s conclusion.

So who’s the perfect candidate for each NHL head coach opening?

Anaheim Ducks Head Coach Candidate: Andrew Brunette

Just one day after the conclusion of the Ducks’ season, April 14, the Ducks announced they would not be renewing head coach Dallas Eakins’ contract, ending his time in Anaheim after four seasons with no playoff appearances.

I think the Ducks should be looking at Andrew Brunette, who currently serves as an associate coach for the New Jersey Devils, to take over behind the bench. During the 2021-22 season, Brunette stepped up as interim head coach for the Florida Panthers after head coach Joel Quenneville was forced to resign. 

Through 75 games with Brunette behind the bench, the Panthers posted a record of 51-18-6, which saw the team advance to the playoffs before being eliminated in the first round. Despite leading the team to win the franchise’s first President’s Trophy, he wasn’t kept on in the position permanently. Brunette has also previously served as both an assistant coach and assistant general manager for the Minnesota Wild.

Brunette is a top candidate across the league for all teams, but I think he’d be a particularly perfect fit for the Ducks. Anaheim is looking to come out of its rebuild in 2023-24, and with a lot of young talent, this is a team with huge potential. Coming in with proven success but still a lot to prove, Brunette might just be the perfect man behind the Ducks’ bench.

Washington Capitals Head Coach Candidate: Scott Allen

On April 14, the Capitals announced they had mutually parted ways with head coach Peter Laviolette after three seasons. Washington finished the 2022-23 season with a record of 35-37-10, marking the first time the team has failed to reach the playoffs since 2014.

If the Capitals are interested in hiring from within, Scott Allen would be a great candidate to be the team’s next head coach. Allen has climbed his way through the ranks in Washington’s organization, having served as an assistant coach for the Hershey Bears (AHL) for two seasons before becoming the team’s head coach in 2021-22. 

Through 76 games with Allen behind the bench, the Bears posted a record of 34-32-6-4, seeing the team advance to the playoffs and rank 11th in the AHL in goals against (209).

Allen joined the Capitals as an assistant coach in July 2022 and took over the team’s penalty kill, immediately improving the unit’s performance despite ongoing injury issues. With a proven record of success in Washington’s organization, I expect Allen to be a top candidate for the vacant bench boss job.

Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach Candidate: Spencer Carbery

The Blue Jackets announced the firing of head coach Brad Larsen on April 15, one day after the conclusion of the team’s season. In 2022-23, Columbus finished second-to-last in the league with a record of 25-48-9.

The Blue Jackets are a young team with a lot of development potential, and they need someone fresh and ambitious to come in and lead the next era of Columbus. I think they should be targeting Spencer Carbery, an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs, to take over as the team’s next bench boss.

Carbery served as head coach for the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) for five seasons and won ECHL Coach of the Year in 2013-14 before becoming head coach of the Saginaw Spirit (OHL) in 2016. He became an assistant for the Providence Bruins (AHL) in 2017, and on June 26, 2018, he was named head coach of the Hershey Bears (AHL). In 2021, Carbery led the Bears to the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy and won the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award for coach of the year before joining the Maple Leafs as an assistant coach on July 17, 2021.

Carbery’s experience and success across the ECHL, OHL, and AHL position him as a great candidate for a head-coaching job in the NHL. A younger, smaller-market club like the Blue Jackets would be a perfect fit.

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About the Author

Rachael Millanta

Read More @rachaelmillanta

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.